By Samuel Pennifold, News Editor.
Former left-wing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva claims a close 50.9% victory over far-right incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro in a hotly contested Brazilian presidential election.
Overnight, Brazilians returned to the polls in the second round of the Brazilian presidential election for a showdown between far-right strongman President Bolsonaro and former left-wing President Lula. Many have commented that, in this election, much more than simply the Office of President was on the line. Brazilian democracy is at risk as Bolsonaro has spent years attempting to undermine the democratic institutions of Brazil and has cast unsubstantiated doubts on Brazil’s electronic voting system.
Many had feared that Bolsonaro, who cuts a similar figure to former American President Donald Trump, would refuse to accept the election results. Though so far whilst it seems Bolsonaro and his supporters are unhappy, calling President Lula an ex-convict and corrupt – thus far they have not called into question the integrity of the election.
Lula is set to serve his second period as President of Brazil having previously served from 2003-2010 as Brazil’s first working-class President when he was elected as part of the ‘Pink Wave.’ The ‘Pink Wave’ refers to the series of left-wing parties and presidents of the São Paulo Forum that won elections across South America in the early 2000s. The prominence of left-wing parties and presidents declined during the early and mid-2010s, coinciding with the end of the South American commodities boom, though they have seen a resurgence in recent elections across the region. During his previous time in office, Lula was a largely popular president who improved welfare within Brazil and moved to reduce deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
Lula’s return to the highest office in the land represents a Lazarus-like political comeback after in 2017 he was found guilty of corruption charges; these charges were later held up in 2018 on appeal. Though in 2021 the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil annulled the charges against Lula on the grounds that the judge who oversaw the original case was biased against him and the court did not have proper jurisdiction to charge Lula, as it was outside of the state the alleged crimes occurred in. This opened a path for Lula to run again in this election; he had previously been favoured to return as President in the 2018 election before his charges were upheld on his first appeal.
Lula may have narrowly won this election but there is a long way to go for him to reunite Brazil, which has become deeply divided during Bolsonaro’s tenure. Many commentators have suggested that this election result is not a reflection of support for Lula, but rather a backlash against the borderline authoritarianism of Bolsonaro. Nonetheless, Lula has promised the return of “peace, love and hope”.
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